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Photographing America's National Parks

Lesson 27 of 37

Magic Hour at Mount Rainier Post Processing

Ian Shive

Photographing America's National Parks

Ian Shive

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Lesson Info

27. Magic Hour at Mount Rainier Post Processing

Lesson Info

Magic Hour at Mount Rainier Post Processing

I just wanna show you the final take that ultimately we got from this, you know, this is actually I eventually, as you saw in the video, ended up taking the polarizer off. So initially when I started this process, I was using the polarizing filter because you can tell the sun was up still very high. I'm sort of polarizer on, and one of the questions from the audience during the broadcast was how many filters were you using? And the answer is actually for at this point onda genna balancing and moving them all around in different positions and the polarizing filter ended up creating a really great sort of, you know, very soft effect as I was getting in a very long exposure in here and you could see the grasses they're soft and then the way the polarizer it was pole rising, this area in particular right here on dh then the filters were managing the sky, and then I had one filter also overall, giving it a long, very long exposure that was across the entire frame. You don't see the whole mo...

untain but that's okay, I actually kind of really light still, I still kind of like this composition despite the fact that the whole mountain is not visible just in the sense that it's vibrant it's, colorful and it's filled with a lot of texture, so ultimately this made my final edit and I'll show you the other nearby frames but eventually the polarizer was completely sacrificed and this is a this is a good example of where I took the sixteen thirty five and I assumed almost all the way and I believe I was or not all the way and probably zoomed into let's see uh where is it? Well look at the file properties which will show you what the focal length wass the camera automatically records all of this data into it it's good having good to get a habit you so here I am almost all the way and I was right thirty one millimeter ondas the focal length and then the camera records all this data automatically it's important it's not important really that's a good idea to set your time and date depending especially you travel a lot and that way you can always reference or no when you went to a particular place and you know what time of year and so on you know if it gets a couple years down the road and you want to go back and rework it so anyway this was thirty one millimeters and this is a great example where I took a wide and zooming and obviously thirty one is still wide but it's certainly not sixteen basically cut my my wide angle in half and I did that because I liked the grass here and we have scouted and seen a lot of grass earlier that was very close to the foreground way didn't see that where we were ultimately what I was getting a good reflection and a good composition so in order to actually make the grass foreground elements on dh not just have a bunch of empty space here which necessarily isn't the worst thing I was able to zoom in and get this and I'm not going to show you this because this is a really great eggs there was a great example of how there were multiple frames from that same set up and uh you could see all of variation in here ultimately this is the shot ended up taking you could see all the variation in shutter speeds and where the clouds are and so on onda course I'm illustrating what you know different exercises so one this is ah is it another variation on a bit less you could see without the polarizer you don't see the red in the water now so I've already taken the polarizer off at that point on dh this is the time lapse asai mentioned also shot a time lapse right here you can actually see the clouds just by scrolling through you could see the clouds moving that way I could get a sense of what direction the weather was changing so these air not actually photos that you see here the sense of that certainly photos, but they're they're actually, they're actually me trying to get a sense of what's happening with the weather by by watching it on dh things like mountains like this mountains like mount mckinley and denali national park. They have their own climate, their own little world as far as weather goes, and so you can look at the weather reports all you want. But these mountains, ten digits generate their weather, it seems s o the easiest waited to know what's going to happen is to simply be there. This was ultimately one of the frames that we took that I took and you'll see the various and on it hears you could see the zoom here, and and this is me just simply I'm not looking exposure, I'm not seeing down here, I start to focus on my exposure and getting my balance. At this point, I'm trying to get my composition, and when I work a scene, I don't just, uh, go and and make sure that every single shot is absolutely perfect for some reason the process that has worked for me, andi think it's, a good process in general to follow is as every time I make an adjustment, I take a picture because I want to be able to go back in a reference. What that adjustment was and whether it worked or didn't from the frame previous to it. So working a scene for me, it's very much like, you know, using the painter analogy again each time I make an adjustment, each brush stroke I make to this canvas that I'm making, I try to take a frame to see do I like it? How's it going? And then if I want to go back and see well, what did I do? Five frames ago, I took a step to the left. I moved in, I cropped a little bit with zooming or whenever I have a reference point now, so it's important so I'm again not looking at exposure. I just picked one. My filters aren't lined up. You can kind of see it's like a little dark up in the top right shots, little bright and losing my highlights. But that's fine, I'm not I'm not at this point setting exposures. I'm simply setting composition s o that's the first step for me is find the composition then slow it down. Get back on the tripod, move the filters, check your settings and go through all of that. So that's my workflow. It's important have a workflow steps that you go through and then you repeat them every single time. This is this is the most common workflow for may. One thing that I noticed as I started to shoot so I started like this. Then I realized ok, I want these grass grasses and here's what zoomed in on guy liked it and I said, okay, this is good. So I'm going to try and start working the filters and moving them around. Now the one thing I noticed remember my thought process on this was okay, this looks good, but I was looking at the highlights on the front left corner here and the highlights up here and and that was a problem pretty much through the entire evening, because that's where the clouds were and that was where the sunlight was coming from. So those were the first things to be illuminated and the last things to be illuminated while the rest of the landscape was considerably darker. So I ended up taking the two filters and putting them up top and taking the third lighter filter the three so I had a six and a nine managing the really bright sky and clouds I then tilt of them a little bit to laugh so that they were mohr augment their effect was augmented towards that left corner and then also simultaneously, I took the third and not too much just a little bit he's a bit too much, then I wouldn't be able to get the effect I wanted in the water. I took the three and I flipped it over so that the bottom part of the frame in here would also be impacted by a neutral density. Why was I doing that? Because ultimately, I'm trying to open up this area here that is considerably darker than everything else, the trees air just and they're not reflecting as much light as the mountain snow, the clouds and the water ultimately, those air like giant reflector card, so I'm looking at how to manage that, and ultimately I was able to manage it and move the filters around at a right angle until I finally got tio this spot on. Now this has been adjusted image, but you see, once again I zoomed in a little bit, too. You could see even here, as I'm starting to hone in on my exposures and getting a sense of what I'm going for, I'm zooming in, um and there you could see the difference between using lens corrections, so I'm gonna actually open this image and show you what the process was. I actually really like this image infact they put it up on my facebook page a couple days ago because this is not the one thing I like about this is it's, not an end of day image. It's it's a close to end of day image it's not like the last shot of the day where you get the shade in the color and all that other stuff. And another thing to remember, too, that I wasn't just shooting to get that one and shot notice that I took shots that I liked all along the way. Each one gives you different feeling this one's more vibrant, bluer where the other one start to get warmer and have one of the oranges. So taking a look these air what my settings were processing in adobe camera raw, I tweet a little bit of the color temperature because I was getting a little bit of intent because we're getting a color casting going on, so I just kind of got the color balance, right? The exposure I just did ever so slightly point one five not very much on dh, that was more. Less less me adjusting exposure mim or adjusting for the fact that I boosted the contrast by not the contrast but using boosting the blacks to give it that punch that I like those clear sort of edges on your object so if you get rid of that that's it sixty seven you could see the difference of how flat the image gets on dh this is a personal choice is a style choice I mean, I like you here is well, you know, I tried to get a little bit of ah get a little bit of a punch in there and that could be a little overkill tito overkill it for sure, but, you know, again play around, see what works um, you know, in this case, you see the highlights been brought all the way down because I was trying to rescue that, but the truth is, look at the difference really not much of a difference it's almost all the number the filter so you could see the highlights are really you could leave it even just here I brought him down because ultimately what I'm doing is I'm looking at this history ram up here and I'm noticing that, um I have a little room over here and when I opened this image, chances are the first step that I take is I move the levels over and that will make the whole scene so much brighter that my highlights may fall off, so I'm or prepping for that so lot times you know, I will I'll try to adjust that I only recently really started messing around the highlight thing and I like it it gets you about, you know, stop maybe to the most I think all the way and an image like this where there really isn't anything blown out even here, you could tell there's detail in every aspect of this. So for me and with nothing on the highlights, this is actually a plus one, so you could see there's detail in this even without doing anything. So this is again, me and anticipation of the fact that when I just my history ramming my levels when they open this image and photoshopped that I'm going teo potentially lose some of those highlights so just being ah proactive um clarity little bit a little bump vibrance because vibrance tends affect the blues and greens this is predominantly a blue and green image. I want to give it that pop that sylvia look that I got really used to when I was starting out I love color its again a personal choice. I know that saturation in general something that is often argued about whether there's too much too little is that natural? Is it not simply it's an artistic choice on whether you like it or not is ultimately up to you, but I like a little bit of obama's with not a huge bump. Obviously if I go away all the way up, you can see what how hyper real that gets, but I'm just giving it enough because again, I am shooting a raw file, which means that this is just basically and on this tv, of course it looks fine, but here on my laptop on the screen, it's a very flat looking image, so I've got to give it a little bit of a little bit of juice, a little bit of love to get some color in there and staying with saturation that's all I've done on this image, I also knows that I used a little bit of the adjustment brushes and you say, well, what did I do in here? This in particular adjustment brush? I was boosting the exposure and more just because I'm trying to get some of the shadow that the mountain the light was getting caught behind this cloud my mountain was so dark that it was getting lost, so I gave that half a stop a boost little bit more major what the highlights there also we're going to get lost in doing so, especially knowing that my levels would come up, I did the exact reversing here I brought those highlights down just a touch on dh just to make sure I didn't lose those later and then again the trees I had two little spots this is me being mildly neurotic about this process and really just a well these air really really dark side give just the touch of a half of stop just to make sure once again that when I add more contrast in my levels that they don't get lost so those are the only adjust miss that were really made to the image I'm not a huge amount to be honest with you they're all pretty pretty subtle this is the image once it's opened and then you see what I'm talking about these levels I anticipated that by looking at that history ram and that little space right there I'm gonna want to get rid of and noticed the image gets brighter if I leave it here the image always looks kind of murky you know columns like there's like a frog looking at it through a frosted lines, so but boosting that up all my highlights got really hot and then I'm gonna bring this down to give it a little bit more contrast and you look at the before and after it's very subtle but it's sieving that a little bit more of a focus it's honing my eye end of those highlights on the mountain in general for publication quality image you don't wanna have any of that space on either end on your history graham on the highlights over in here or if this were empty over in here and you could see how close I am to getting clipped darks in here and that's probably referencing those spots very, very much in the shade right here very, very little bit generally you want to make sure that those are equal and again everyone screens are a little different and so looking at your history graham and knowing what you're getting and you can always break it down by channels and color eyes an important part of the process after I do that, of course then I get in there and I go after the dust which sometimes could be bugs could be any time to use a filter and you're using massive depth of field and this is the healing brush and you have massive depth of field you're going tohave dust on your picture and you're going to have a lot of it s so I try to keep the filters as clean as I can and then just basically building a grid usually about a hundred or two hundred percent depending you know, zoom in and look for it and this is what dust looks like um and usually you know if it's a mosquito because your dust has wings and after that's done, I'll do the whole picture. Make sure to check the highlights, especially where the dust jumps out water. I will move it down from sixteen to a pit. And I will also smart sharpen usually between thirty five and fifty eyes the range depending a two point a very little bit. And then away we go on the image. So that's, the general on that midday the late day had a completely different process behind it. Um, let me ask you any questions on that first folks were asking was really cool to see again the process of the manually and, uh, the filters that you are using out there in the field and people are wanting what they don't have those then can they achieve the same effect using things like the graduated filter in light room or in every question? Yeah. So let me show you a shot here. This is without a filter, right? You can use there's. Two types of this is this is a graduated filter to one photo shop. I actually have gotten into the habit of using this a lot more often. It's not the same. I used a filter in the field because I'm capturing the light coming through and make sure there's enough information. Occasionally, if you've layered your shot or whatever or maybe the highlights air not so blown out that there is still data in them on dh in this case, probably so, because this is a pretty balanced exposure you can actually go and click on that neutral density tool and then drag it down, and this is a question that is basically the digital equivalent of a filter and you'll notice that I could go and drag the exposure down and get a very similar effect. It works just a cz well, often on dh it's working so well to the point where I think as as the dynamic range of a raw file continues to improve, maybe the rule of filters will be question I think that for me I use filters because I've gotten what sort of ah, hyper real type of image, but not so hyper real that it starts to feel fake, and I think that hdr khun b over processed and and that could be an addicting fun process to process hdr, I think, but it can also yield a result that is so obviously not riel on dso. But, you know, again it's all a matter of opinion on a lot of that, so think again anything you have to do with what you're comfortable but what's great is you can do this, and I think with the balance of of tools that you have I mean, like I could do it on the water as well and it works the reverse you can also light in areas it works just like a grad it also gives you a lot of control that if you wanted a boost a particular color you could even do that as well and I could boost the blues in here so you can definitely do that you can also get multiple exposures but remember when I use a filter in the field if these shadows were lost because I didn't have enough balance and I'm exposing for the highlights and a single exposure, they're not coming back, so the filter allows me to make sure I'm capturing as much data and information possible remember I'm just trying to capture data hdr would be the alternative to that of capturing a lot of data in the whole range hdr being high dynamic range being capturing multiple exposures at different levels really dark all the way to really bright and then later bringing them all in using software whether that's, photoshopped or something else so people were asking about yes that's, that's, that's, that's those those of the ways to go about it on I will say again, there's a lot of times where I can't get a filter on I don't have time lights changing, I'm in a rush, but whatever the reason may be I like the idea of actually just applying it right here digitally after the fact, and once again it would apply it would fall under the digital for ethics on digital manipulation. This would actually fall is more of a as a dodging and burning category, because essentially you're just doing that, which has been a common practice since the days of the black and white dark room. I do want to get to this last shot, at least I want to show you scroll through this pretty fast, you can see the whole at it again. I could spend days talking about this stuff, but you can see house that I'm taking a lot of exposure now, of course I'm leading people through, of course, I'm taking probably a little bit probably similar, actually what I would do, I might make mohr adjustments more frequently if I wasn't, uh, if I wasn't a better look at that, see every now and then a finger gets in there. This was the vertical, and I tried this and it just with a polarizing filter, and I'm like, yeah, that's, not that's not happening. Um and then I chide moved around, and so you see how the different compositions I moved to the different compositions different filter setting so on, isn't it being the final you could see the difference you see that little bubble in effect in the middle that's me using the lens correction tool you want? How do I get from here to here? A lot of that a lot of what happens is you get her to the vignette ing you get rid of everything else by using this enable lens correction to the difference it's a pretty big difference in the sense that it opens up the image gets rid of that dark edges so on and so forth and and so similar similar of course in its application of the blacks contrast you see the blues, the vibrant so on on the wide angle worked really well, so see, I'm working the scene I'm zooming I'm changing different compositions here I zoomed in from the same spot at a flower catching in the corner and did not catch that until I got back I was looking also at these clouds I kind of like the way you started it the striations in the sky really, really cool stuff. But, you know, whatever it was it was ok here is without filters was demo ing with the same settings without any sort of filtration going on eventually we move. This is the composition that it was not necessarily my favorite, but I thought still kind of worked actually on this one cloud which a lot of toxins in the parking lot but you see I actually confused myself that's upside down I was like yeah yeah it's so weird how it's like what side is uh which is the right side right that's a good reflection lake shot right there but anyway that cloud actually you know again personal choice it was more distracting to me to have a single cloud over the mountain and it was to have all of these different little patterns that you had going on but for me ultimately I liked it when that cloud and everything sort of very in the mountain got clean we got the light and you can see the difference between these two shots again we're working with a raw file and I'm going to go through it and show you exactly what I did because I used a different tool to ensure that that warm warm glow that was there on dh there's a guy next mentioned shooting hdr and he stopped his camera all the way down so that it was basically the entire shot was black and that this top of this mountain was a deep deep orange well, I got back and looked at my shawn I know what a good job capturing a very neutrally colored shot but I somehow missed that orange elements so I'm gonna go and just make a quick adjustment here but what I want to show you is that there is a little to appear that I love which allows you to go and you click on the plus with a circle you go down a saturation and it allows you to pick a particular area and then you just slide to the right and it allows you to boost that particular color that you're highlighted on and so if you want to just yume or directional saturation on dh not necessary re saturate the whole image but rather particular color um this is a great and a nifty little way to do so and obviously the zoom in you can really hone in on that color in particular, so he said, I'll go okay looks pretty good um it's a really great tool for targeting your color balance and you haven't done anything this picture except boost that those two colors stature are three color saturation blue green and the orange now at this point, I can go and start to add some of the other elements into the shop just a little bit of bass china return that if you want in this particular case, the highlights were still really hot and because I'm going to go on open them up, I might want teo bring them back when I say open him up checked my levels might want to open up the shadows just a touch is well, you know very I'm not trying to go to far on all this and try to preserve as much qualities I can ultimately and getting off the all the details in there, so I just kind of keep working it, moving it around so on and so forth, it's a little strong and the blues as faras the saturation is I'm demo ing this, but take that back just a touch you could see how ultimately the shot came together like just honing in on those colors. Do we have any questions about any of this stuff so far? We absolutely dio let's ask a couple and I'll go to you guys in a second. This was a good question we haven't talked too much today about sharpening and as see, sean asks with the smart, smart sharpen example is this sharpening for web j peg? And can you talk a little bit about the differences for sharpening for different purposes? Um short, so sharpening in general is something that can be rapidly overdone. I sharpened for the resolution and the dimensions of my photos, which are at publication quality sizes, so I'm going at a minimum of five thousand pixels on the long side three hundred peopie I three hundred pixels per inch that's what I consider the publication grade size image and is the requirement in the industry for publication quality images eso based on that, the sharpening I'm doing it's subtle on dh amusing a pixel radius doesn't mention of two point oh, I'm usually between thirty and fifty percent, depending on how much sharpening it. I feel like the image needs that all very different now I have really good depth of field happening on all of these images, and there they are, razor sharp throughout on dso in the sense that they were focused. Well, so, really, all I'm trying to do is just give a little bit of a little bit of ah sharpening in order to add what the camera is not doing because I'm shooting raw. So if I were shooting j peg, I'm trying to come up with the equivalent of that if I were to use those same settings on a smaller image, if the image we're eight hundred pixels instead of five thousand pixels and I use the same settings, the image gets so hyper sharpened. Um, I'm going to give you an example of it real quick. We'll open this image, and if I sharpen it now with the settings that I just used and which are forty foreign to point out, you really see any difference, not really let's, do it again, zoomed in into this area. Before and after a little bit, you see it really up in here, in the detail before and after. Now, let's downsize this image to a smaller mentors go seventy two, which is a common web resolution eight hundred on the wide side let's, look, now you see how the quality already dropped off, right? So it zoom out a little bit and let's look at the same sharpness on here and, yes, you see how pronounced it is? Look at that before and after so it's just overbearing. So you have to I'm just adding enough for a little bit of sharpness to it. And remember, if you're gonna ultimately publish your work that you know, the pre production process, the at the magazine or whoever ad agency as well as the people actually doing the printing, we'll also probably pass the image through on sharpening is why a lot of agencies say, don't sharpen your images or do very minimal sharpening, so essentially I think you can you conover sharpen it is something looks just so sharpen, edgy and rigid and search the looking real jagged on the edges. You you've gone too far.

Class Description

Outdoor photography celebrates the varied and stunning landscapes of the natural world – in this unique course you will learn composition and shooting techniques for getting beautiful outdoor shots.

Shooting and teaching from two of the world’s most pristine parks, Olympic National Park and Mt. Rainier National Park, award-winning photographer Ian Shive will teach you new ways to create outdoor photographs that are powerful, captivating and fresh. You'll explore key elements of great outdoor photography including: composition, working a scene, selecting exposure, using filters to manage natural light, and scouting a great location. Then you'll learn how to put it all together to tell a story in a single image or series. After spending time in the field, Ian will move into the studio and present on the equally important tasks of managing and editing your work from the field.

Ian will show you how to capture images that are both technically and emotionally engaging. Don’t miss this incredible opportunity to learn how to document the beauty of the great outdoors, in camera.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Field Guide to Photographing the American Wilderness

Icons of Nature Keynote

National Park Photography Intro and Setup

Photo Editing Keynote

10 Steps to Processing Perfect Star Trail Images

Business of Photography Keynote

Gear Guide

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes



I have taken quite a few courses with createlive and this was by far one of the best. Ian is a fantastic teacher and remarkable at describing what he is doing and his thought process clearly. There is so much good information in this course, I definitely plan on buying this class. Not only is Ian a great teacher, but he also seems to genuinely want to help other photographers and see them succeed. You can tell he cares more about seeing good pictures of nature than anything else. I cannot recommend this course enough. Whether you are a beginner who shoots landscape photography as a hobby or a professional who already specializes in landscape photography, this class has something to offer and will expand your skill set. Can't thank Ian enough and I hope he does another course soon.


Ian is a great teacher and it is great when some one who "can do", can also explain how he does it. Clearly, his experience and commitment are why he is good at what he does. There is a lot more to a great photo than getting the camera settings and filters right. Ian did his best to help us understand what to look for when "working the scene" and finding a good composition without distractions. A great course. Thank you, Creative Live and Ian Shive.


Amazing course. Ian Shive is a wonderful teacher, as well as photographer, and it all comes across. I was glued to my computer for the entire 3 days when the class was live, and just had to purchase it so I don't lose any of it. The bonus materials alone are worth the purchase price. I've got a trip coming up soon and will have the opportunity to put some of what Ian said into practice; and love that I can have it with me on my portable devices so I can refresh my memory and reinforce it all. Great to have on a long plane ride. If you are on the fence, get off that fence and go purchase this great course!!! You won't be sorry. My thanks to CreativeLive, and Ian Shive for giving us this wonderful opportunity to not only learn, but to actually be in the field with Ian.